Palestinian Women Call for Justice on International Women’s Day

 Tuesday, 3/15/11 
From: CPTnet: the news service of CPT <cptnet@mailman.cpt.org>
 by Sam Nichols
[Note: Nichols’ original release appeared on <http://wagingnonviolence.org/2011/03/palestinian-woman-call-for-justice-on-international-womens-day/>

      All across the occupied Palestinian territories, women took to the streets on Tuesday, 8 March 2011 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

      In Gaza city, an estimated 500 women marched through the city center calling for an end to the rift between rival political factions—Fatah, which governs the West Bank, and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip—so that Palestinian leaders can more effectively resist the expansion of settlements.
      

Palestinian women also led protests across the Israeli-occupied West Bank.  In Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, dozens of women blocked an Israeli bypass road in protest of Israel’s vast system of roadblocks that limit Palestinian movement. In Hebron, a broad swath of women’s civil society, including representatives from non-governmental organizations, schools, labor unions, and women’s cooperatives organized to distribute flowers to a  large number of women across the city.

      The Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq, released a video for International Women’s Day highlighting the ways that both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation are responsible for the suppression of Palestinian women’s rights.   With the video, Al-Haq released a statement reminding the world that the “struggle for the fundamental human rights of Palestinian women” is severely jeopardized by a “belligerent and unrelenting occupation”:
     

Throughout the Occupied Territories, Israel impedes women’s access to educational institutions, places of employment and healthcare clinics.   While the repressive and discriminatory policies exercised by Israel against the free movement of Palestinians have had a devastating effect on the entire population, they have a disproportionate impact on Palestinian women, denying them basic economic and social rights guaranteed to them by international law.

      At a protest in occupied East Jerusalem, Fadwa Khader, women’s activist and member of the Palestinian People’s Party, accentuated the point that women’s rights are routinely trampled by the Israeli occupation:
Today is a celebration of International Women’s Day and the Palestinian women of Jerusalem are raising our voices and calling on the world to show solidarity with us and help us get rid of the Israeli occupation.  Part of the women’s rights issue is the harm caused by the Israeli occupation. Can you imagine women being woken up and kicked out of their homes in the early morning so their homes can be demolished to make way for settlements? We are talking about human rights and women’s rights.

      The west often sounds the alarm about the plight of women in the Arab world, citing (by default) the role that Islamists play in the suppression of women’s rights in the Middle East.  We routinely fail to listen to Arab women—in this case, Palestinian women—who clearly identify the obstacles that stand between them and their rights. On 8 March, across Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian women identified the U.S.-supported Israeli occupation of their land and livelihood as the biggest impediment to the realization of their rights.

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